Scripture: Matthew 12: 41
The Lord commanded Jonah to leave whatever he was doing to prepare to go to the great city of Nineveh to prophesy against it. He was to lift up his voice and cry aloud against the inhabitants because their wickedness had reached to the heavens. Their wickedness, just like the crying evils of today, called for the destruction of the City.
Jonah disobeyed God’s command and decided to go to Tarshish instead of Nineveh, because he was fearful of his mission. He did not know what was in store for him in the foreign and wicked city but God always provide and protect His soldiers in His Army.
In his attempt to evade God’s commission, Jonah headed to Joppa to go to Tarshish by sea. He paid his fare, boarded the ship and he was on his way. During the trip, the Lord sent a great wind into the sea and there was storm, which caused the waves to rise, to roar and to toss the boat to and fro as if it would sink. The passengers and the crew became afraid that they would perish. They even threw cargo overboard to lighten the ship to assist them in their struggle to keep the boat afloat.
Everyone cried to his or her god for help and prayed to be saved out of their distress but Jonah was fast asleep in his cabin. They concluded that something or somebody was responsible for the distress in which they were facing, and Jonah admitted that he was the problem and the solution was to cast him in the sea.
God had already prepared a fish to swallow Jonah when he landed in the water. He was in the belly of the fish for three days and nights. Jonah was miraculously preserved. He was not digested in the stomach of the fish; he did not suffocate in the belly of the fish, but he breathed and lived; he kept his senses and to be in such a frame of mind as both to pray and praise God in the belly of the fish.
He slept on the boat while the other passengers were praying. Now he had a private prayer and supplication service. The Lord answered Jonah’s petition in his time of affliction from the belly of the fish. The Lord ordered the fish to release Jonah out of his prison and the fish vomited Jonah upon dry land.
The Lord spoke to Jonah the second time after he was humbled, punished and afflicted for his disobedience. Like Simon Peter, the Lord restored, renewed and made Jonah more fit to be used in His service.
Jonah could not wait to declare and expose the wickedness of the people of Nineveh. Time was of the essence as he preached the Word of God. He cried aloud as he warned the people that in forty days Nineveh shall be overthrown, not by a foreign army besieging and taking it but by the power of God either by fire and brimstone like Sodom and Gomorrah or by natural disasters.
The people of Nineveh believed the Word of God, turned from their evil ways, repented and the city was saved from destruction.
If we hear the Word of God and we do not repent of our sins, St. Matthew warns us that on judgment day the people of Nineveh will rise up against this faithless generation and condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah and now the Son of Man, greater than Jonah, is here and we refuse to repent. (Matt. 12:41)